Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Clinton Road, New Jersey

Clinton Road, located in northern New Jersey, has easily been one of the most evasive and alluring pieces of Weird NJ lore that I have ever read about.

I first read about the place when I was very, very young. All of the accounts told the same stories: cults and forest-dwelling posses chasing visitors from the road, late at night. Stories involving a pickup truck and visitors being ran off of the road were also prominent. All of these sounded nonsensical and over-exaggerated, but such is the nature of these urban legends. We visited the road and probably spent just under a half an hour traversing is entirety, one way. Then, we turned around and retraced our path, making the entire visit about an hour long. We of course got home safely. The bulk of the trip consisted of actually getting there, probably around an hour and a half from our house in Piscataway.

The road itself was not particularly frightening. If you are familiar with our love of the mountains, especially the nearby Pocono Mountains and share it, you will have no anxiety or fear upon seeing the landscape. Hilly, rocky, and lots of forest, all featured around a few lakes. We enjoyed it for the conversation and the ambiance and legend surrounding its history. We ended up talking and sharing our own scary stories for the night (shown below in the videos). The storytellers in the car were Evan Jennings, Dylan Sindelar, and myself, Jeff Koval. I was personally happy with the output, but the audio-only upload's quality is lacking, to say the least. They were not edited for time or content, so bear with us if you are listening for the stories.

The only really odd experience we had on the road was just after the halfway point, on the return trip through the road (around twenty-two minutes in). In the video, I replay the clip in question at a slower speed immediately after it happens. The video does not do the experience justice. We all saw a thick cloud of mist or fog in the center of the road, solitary, and we drove through it. It was substantial enough that I stopped mid-sentence and pointed to it. We all acknowledged it and laughed, nervous and loving the moment. We could not explain it, it being a clear night and the road lacking any vents or gutters.

To make a long story short, if you are within an hour's drive of Clinton Road and are interested in a peaceful drive, I would recommend it. Otherwise, I would not make it a priority. You will be disappointed if you are experiencing Big Foot or the Jersey Devil to attack your vehicle. You would probably set yourself up for expectations far beyond any horror story or urban legend that you may have heard of. Just enjoy it for a beautiful patch of country road with quiet residences and a peaceful lakeside park.

As an aside, there is a lovely lake community and availability of rental options further on the road, for those interested in summer lodgings and the like. At the far end, you can also enjoy the longest redlight wait in the country. I knew it felt weird as we waited and I only learned of its legacy once we arrived home.

I love my state, for its ability to invoke images of the macabre and paranormal, if only to create an opportunity to share personal ghost stories with your good friends.